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The 1980s: 1983

A Temporary Commission and Permanent Constitutional Change

Legislators again faced a court-mandated redistricting effort as the 1983 legislative session began. The possibility that continuing partisan battles over the issue would divert attention from the budget and other pressing matters prompted the Legislature to choose another course. Members enacted Substitute House Bill 20, which established a temporary citizen panel to redraw the congressional district boundaries as required by the courts. The panel was allowed only eighteen days to complete its work, and then legislators were given the opportunity to make minor changes if they were supported by two-thirds of the members of both houses.

The temporary commission included two Republicans and two Democrats nominated by the party caucuses, and these four, in turn, chose a fifth person to serve as the non-partisan chair. Luvern Rieke, a University of Washington law professor, was selected as chair by panel members Don Eldridge and Ron Dunlap, representing the Republican Party, and Democrats Pete Francis and James Gillespie. The committee also had an advisory staff that included Richard Schweitzer, a demographer and computer expert.

The commission successfully met its deadlines, and the both houses adopted the new congressional redistricting plan with little resistance. The legislature also passed bills that called for a constitutional amendment to establish a permanent redistricting commission and enabling legislation to set up the appropriate process. In the November elections voters approved Senate Joint Resolution 103, amending the Constitution and transferring the work of redistricting from the Legislature to an independent commission.


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1982 1990s